Cowbell complaint thrown out in Alps

A group of 20 holiday home owners who complained about cowbells in an Alpine village had their plea rejected by the mairie after more than 110,000 signed a counter-petition.

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The group, mostly British, wrote to Le Biot mayor Henri-Victor Tournier saying they understood they “lived in the country where there was a long tradition of cows, sheep and goats” but the constant noise of the bells on the pastures day and night was “unbearable”.

However, it sparked a protest by about 400 cowbell-clanging people near the visitors’ houses, calling to save Haute-Savoie heritage and saying the hills would be a “no mans land” of thorns and fern without cows.

A petition online by local farmers was signed by 113,000 people from as far as Australia.

Mr Tournier said the village practised montagne douce as it cost up to €8,000 a year to clear brush before they used cows.

He told Connexion: “We have more than 50 British and other nationalities who live here – 25% of the 94 kids at school are anglais – and for a little thing about bells these visitors are hurting good relations between the British and French.

“We like the British but when I go to live in a foreign country I do not start petitions against the customs!

“We’re not mean-minded, so we are moving the water trough up the hill to stop the cows running down to it. We’ve made a move now it is up to them.”